Former Woodchucks owner reflects on team, career - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Former Woodchucks owner reflects on team, career

WAUSAU (WAOW) -

The Wisconsin Woodchucks team is now under new ownership and it's an emotional experience for the now former owner.

Athletic Park in Wausau has been a second home for Clark Eckhoff.

"You know, the last 13 and some years it's been a part of my family's life," he said.

He bought the Woodchucks in 1999. "To me, this was central Wisconsin's team."

Eckhoff said his two daughters grew up at the ballpark.

"I can see pictures of them running around this park when they were four and six years old and that's pretty special." Eckhoff got emotional as he described the memories made inside the stadium.

But he admits, running the team took it's toll.

"You're living this almost like 24 hours a day probably starting now all the way until into September," Eckhoff said.

Now, he's handing over the keys to another baseball lover.

La Crosse area native Mark Macdonald said his passion for baseball started when he was young. "I was listening to Bob Uecker call the Brewer games and I fell in love with the sport."

After retiring last year, he said he started looking for a baseball team to run. When he heard about the Woodchucks, he knew it was a good fit. 

"Clark has done a wonderful job here. It's a great organization," Macdonald said.

Eckhoff said the organization is in good hands. "I just see a lot of great positive things for this organization going forward."

But former Woodchucks players said the legacy Eckhoff leaves will be hard to follow.

"Having a first class organization, he did it to the fullest," former player Jeremy Jirschele said.

Eckhoff will still be a part of the team, but in a smaller role. He will head the Woodchucks advisory board and work as a consultant. He said he'll always look back on what he's accomplished with pride.

"It's very heartfelt. This leaves a lot of memories for my family and I," he said.

The team's season opener is on June 1.

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